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'We got what we deserved' admits Gatland as Lions crash to Brumbies loss

The Lions head coach said it was ‘hard to comment’ on positives after he witnessed his side humbled in Canberra.

Ian Evans and Billy Twelvetrees reflect on a 14-12 loss.
Ian Evans and Billy Twelvetrees reflect on a 14-12 loss.
Image: David Davies/PA Wire

THE SMILING, AMIABLE Lions on the 2013 will quickly retreat from Canberra and head, scowling, to Brisbane for the first Test against Australia following a 14-12 loss to the Brumbies.

Warren Gatland’s men, so accustomed to rushing in tries from all over the park, were outfought and outfoxed by the Super Rugby league leaders. It was hard to pick out a player in red that had a good game, although some of the replacements showed the required steel to get the Lions into a position to steal a game they scarcely deserved to.

The Lions, with Stuart Hogg’s fabulous tour turning sour and two goal-kicks from four missed, were 14-3 down at one stage but battled back to within two points. They had field position for a late drop goal attempt but looked to draw a penalty and were turned over. The game ended on the tourist’s 22 with the Brumbies going through 10 phases and three scrums to wind down the clock.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Gatland said, “The first half performance was not good enough. We got what we deserved.”

Gatland admitted that backs coach Andy Farrell was required to address the team at half-time ‘and give them a bit of a rocking’. The intensity levels raised but the Lions could not secure ball off their lineout — hooker Rory Best had a nightmare — and the Brumbies were up for a scrap.

Jake White (l) and Warren Gatland. (©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

Reflecting on another game with poor ball retention at the lineout, Gatland returned to the maxim that ‘there are things we’re going to have to work on’. The bench was not fully cleared until the final quarter of the match and the Kiwi proclaimed he was trying to give the starting XV a chance to right some wrongs. He added:

It was a tough decision. A few of those players (on the bench) will be involved on Saturday… we came here on the right track, the momentum was good but we’ve taken a backward step tonight.”

Brumbies coach Jake White put the win right up with his leading South Africa to a World Cup win in 2007. He said, “They were a bit disjointed with a couple of chaps coming in late.”

The South African commented ‘this is as big as it gets for me’. He declared that the breakdown battle was crucial in winning the match and playing tight, smart rugby was also key. He said:

We were trying to play field position. All the other (Australia) sides tried to play flashy and tried to run it. We thought we’d play it like a Test match.”

If the Wallabies play it like the Brumbies in their Test match on Saturday, the good-natured Lions may withdraw into their shell and take some hefty licks.

As it happened: Lions v Brumbies, 2013 Tour

Lions feeding on 2009 pain ahead of first Oz Test

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Patrick McCarry

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